City 'one of the strongest'

Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero chipping the ball over Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel to score his third goal and his team's fourth in the 5-1 Premier League win at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester on Saturday.
Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero chipping the ball over Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel to score his third goal and his team's fourth in the 5-1 Premier League win at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester on Saturday.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Messi sees Pep's EPL leaders and PSG as the main rivals to Barca in Champions League

LONDON • The Manchester City juggernaut continues to roll and Barcelona star Lionel Messi believes its final destination this season could be Kiev.

The capital of Ukraine plays host to this year's Champions League final, where the forward will be hoping to win the biggest trophy in club football for a fourth time.

But he knows his former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola and the Spaniard's City side present a huge obstacle in that quest.

The runaway English Premier League leaders thrashed Leicester 5-1 on Saturday, meaning they have still lost just twice in all competitions this term - to Shakhtar Donetsk and Liverpool.

"Manchester City are one of the strongest teams around, as well as Paris Saint-Germain," Messi told the Mirror.

"I also do not exclude Real Madrid in terms of quality and experience, even though they have not yet achieved the expected results.

  • 7

  • Sergio Aguero has scored in seven straight games at the Etihad Stadium in all competitions for the first time in his Manchester City career.

  • 3

    The Argentinian has thrice scored four or more goals in a single Premier League match - more than any other player in the competition's history.

  • 1

    Jamie Vardy is the first player to score against Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham in the same Premier League season.

"Then there's Bayern Munich, another great team who will play until the end. Today, however, the best are City and PSG."

City travel to Basel on Tuesday for the first leg of their last-16 Champions League clash.

Their following two fixtures consist of a trip to League One outfit Wigan for an FA Cup fifth-round tie and a League Cup final against Arsenal at Wembley. It is a schedule that reflects the potential to win four trophies in Guardiola's second season in England.

City already have one hand on the league title after Saturday's result moved them 16 points clear of nearest rivals Manchester United, who lost 0-1 at Newcastle yesterday.

Sergio Aguero was the four-goal hero and yet the striker was quick to praise Kevin de Bruyne, who created his side's opening three goals and has a league-leading 14 assists this season.

"Luckily Kevin de Bruyne is playing for us and helping us to score," said Aguero. "I am very lucky because most of the goals come from his assists - I just have to hit the ball. Any team in the world would love to have him."

Raheem Sterling had given City an early lead but Leicester equalised through Jamie Vardy. Aguero then took centre stage with a finishing masterclass.

A neat exchange between Sterling and de Bruyne on the right flank allowed the latter to deliver a low cross for Aguero to tap in.

Moments later, a weak clearance from Kasper Schmeichel was ruthlessly punished as a clinical City move ended with a fierce angled shot from Aguero.

He capitalised on another poor clearance from Schmeichel and lifted an audacious chip over the goalkeeper, before rounding off the scoring with a powerful effort from just outside the area.

"An authentic legend of this club," said Guardiola of Aguero.

Leicester named City target Riyad Mahrez among the substitutes after he ended a self-imposed exile which saw him miss their last two matches.

The forward replaced Fousseni Diabate in the 62nd minute, if only to witness the City machinery first-hand.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 12, 2018, with the headline 'City 'one of the strongest''. Print Edition | Subscribe